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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/551

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EDUCATIONAL ADVANCE

be the birthright of each and all. Leisure makes possible study, social intercourse and the expansion of the life of the individual to the measure which the modern world community spirit demands.

At the beginning of the last century, the United States was a weak nation possessing an unknown immensity of undeveloped resources. In a century it grew to be one of the richest and most powerful nations of the earth—an acknowledged great power. Development of resources was the demand and the necessity of the period. Exploitation of natural treasures and constant expansion was the program of the century. Resourceful, self-reliant and individualistic men who were willing and able to devote untiring energy to the task of building up the material strength and resources of the nation, were needed, and became the familiar, successful and progressive type of American manhood. The fundamental, all-absorbing economic question was production, which was carried on chiefly through the exploitation of natural resources. The rough and crude form of frontier life reacted upon the entire people, and left an imprint which many generations will not entirely eradicate. As long as the frontier remained there was continual contact with the new and primitive. This type of civilization tended to continue and to perpetuate itself long after the conditions which caused it had passed into history. The primitive type of society is highly individualistic; it resents the interference of organized society in any form. In such a community might often spells right. It places little or no limitation upon the use or abuse of property. The right of the individual completely over-towers the right of society.

After the disappearance of the frontier a different set of conditions confronts the people of the United States. Widely separated farming communities or sparsely settled mining districts, and the presence of immense tracts of practically free land, demand one system of ethics, one code of human relations, and one kind of educational principles and precepts; while densely populated cities, the scarcity of free land, and increased mutual interdependence make imperative a new scheme of social relations. The disappearance of the frontier induces a weakening of the individualistic and a strengthening of the social qualities of the American people. Sociological, as well as psychological, principles begin gradually and timidly to creep into the educational world. Society must adjust itself to a more crowded environment; and the problem is to make this adjustment along the lines of least resistance. New social, industrial, agricultural, commercial, educational, ethical and legal forms now become necessary. What is desirable and even highly commendable in a new, fertile, undeveloped and expanding country may become a positive menace and hindrance in an older, better developed and more densely populated nation. New aims and new ideals are requisite to this adjustment from the old to the new. Educa-